Dani Pedrosa has left hospital following an operation to his arm and knee necessitated by his nasty fall during night testing at Qatar at the beginning of the week, and though he is not promising that he will be back in action in the opening race of the season in just five weeks' time, it is clear that is his goal.
The Repsol Honda star – who had been widely expected to be a contender for the crown in 2009 – sustained a fractured left forearm and re-opened a left knee wound when he was thrown from his bike at the Losail International Circuit and subsequently hit by his RC212V on Monday. When the accident occurred, Pedrosa's knee was still recovering from surgery in December, to help heal damage sustained on the opening lap of last October's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
After receiving initial treatment in Qatar – including three stitches to his knee – the Spaniard was flown back to his homeland for more detailed examinations to take place at the USP Institut Universitari Dexeus hospital in Barcelona. He has since been given skin graft surgery to his knee and was discharged from hospital this morning (Saturday), 72 hours after his arrival.
Pedrosa is expected to be able to begin his rehabilitation within a week, though he knows his knee is not likely to heal quickly and he will have to wait almost a month before being able to begin bending the joint again. That means he will almost certainly have to forego the final pre-season test at Jerez on 28-29 March, but the 23-year-old insists he is keeping his options open.
“I feel quite a lot better,” he revealed. “When I arrived, the truth is that the knee did not look very good, but the operation went well and I am pleased. This morning Dr. Ferreira made his final check and I saw how good the knee was looking.
“Now I have to rest a little, as it is very important to give the body a break for the first few days [and] let things take their course; then I will start my recovery plan. I imagine that at the beginning it will be tough trying to give the skin and knee some elasticity. Referring to my arm, this will not be so complicated as it will not be immobilised for so long.
“We are planning to work hard and so be ready for the first race in Qatar, but when the day arrives we will have to see whether I am really in perfect shape to get on the bike. The objective is to try and be fit for the first race. You do not choose to be in a situation like this, but we have no other choice than to face up to things and to carry on.
“I have fallen many times, and I have always fought back and I will do it again. We will get back to riding fast on the bike. It is true that I am having some problems this pre-season, but there is nothing we can do about that – we just have to keep going.”
Indeed, Pedrosa's 2008 pre-season preparations were similarly disrupted when he fractured his hand during testing at Sepang, but he went on to win two races over the course of the campaign and was on top of the title chase when he fell again whilst in the lead of the wet German Grand Prix in mid-July, leaving him with hand and ankle injuries that ultimately contributed to the six-time MotoGP race-winner slipping back to third place in the final riders' standings.